|Publication number||US6896223 B2|
|Application number||US 10/728,581|
|Publication date||May 24, 2005|
|Filing date||Dec 4, 2003|
|Priority date||Dec 4, 2002|
|Also published as||US20040113015|
|Publication number||10728581, 728581, US 6896223 B2, US 6896223B2, US-B2-6896223, US6896223 B2, US6896223B2|
|Inventors||Robert A. Fulcher, Allan E. Beavers|
|Original Assignee||Miti Manufacturing Company|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (39), Referenced by (9), Classifications (9), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/431,187, filed Dec. 4, 2002, entitled “Aircraft Wheel Immobilizer,” which is incorporated herein in its entirety.
The present invention relates to devices for selective interconnection to a tire of a vehicle, and more specifically to light-weight chocks used to prevent theft and unauthorized movement of aircraft.
Wheel immobilization devices are employed in a variety of situations, most commonly being the wheel chock. Wheel chocks provide an easy and inexpensive way to ensure that a vehicle will remain at rest if a parking brake should fail. Often chocks will have a triangular or rectangular cross section, the former being the preferred shape because it approximates the shape of a tire and thus provides a greater assurance of immobility. Wheel chocks are frequently used to restrain large trucks, mobile support equipment, or in the case of the present invention, aircraft.
It is common practice at most airports to provide chocks and/or tie-down means at aircraft parking and staging areas to prevent aircraft from rolling due to uneven pavement surfaces or wind impingements. More specifically, chocks prevent horizontal motion, while tie-downs generally prevent vertical motion, for example lift generated by high ground winds. Thus, chocks and tie downs provide sufficient immobilization for small aircraft. Larger aircraft generally do not require tie downs since ground winds have a reduced effect thereon, due to their increased weight. Tie-downs also may be capable of providing sufficient rolling impedance for smaller aircraft if chocks are not available.
After the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, it became painfully evident that America's aircraft and airports are in need of greater security measures. One area that requires more security are airports that serve private pilots and business jets. Even though security has been increased as a result of the terrorist attacks, there are still gaping holes that may allow a terrorist with the proper skills to steal an aircraft and reek havoc. Moreover, many small airports are not completely surrounded by fences or walls, and door locks of many small planes are notoriously easy to circumvent. A would-be terrorist could easily gain access to the aircraft parking area, remove the chocks and tie-down chains, gain access to an aircraft, “hot-wire” the ignition, and take off. Since many single engine aircraft are light weight and have low wing loading, a runway take off may not be necessary, such that a taxiway would suffice to enable the aircraft to become airborne. Thus, an aircraft could be in the air before ground or tower controllers realize that the aircraft had been stolen. Even though one small single-engine aircraft may not do much damage, many coordinated aircraft would do great damage to a building, sports venue, or other structure.
An aircraft may be locked via the tie-down means. Chain or cable tie-downs, which interconnect wing attachment points to the ground, may be integrated with locks in order to prevent unauthorized movement of an aircraft. Unfortunately, many of these types of tie-downs are prone to rust and are easily cut. Alternatively, the attachment hardware on the aircraft could be removed. Finally, many small airports employ rope tie-downs which provide no protection against theft.
Propeller locks are another means of preventing unauthorized use of an aircraft. However, propeller locks may be undesirable to employ because generally they are heavy, cumbersome, difficult to install and remove, and are apt to damage the propeller during installation and removal. In addition, propeller locks only prevent movement of the propeller, the wheels of an aircraft utilizing such a lock may be moved, wherein the aircraft may be stolen. Finally, propeller locks are useless in conjunction with jet aircraft.
The foregoing is mainly concerned small private aircraft, but theft can foreseeably occur with respect to larger aircraft or other types of vehicles, although the sophistication of a thief or terrorist may necessarily be greater. Theft of business or jumbo jets may foreseeably occur, which are capable of causing great damage. Finally, as was the case in the Oklahoma City bombing, trucks have been used in the past as weapons of terror.
Thus, there is a long felt need in the field of wheel immobilization to provide an apparatus that is capable of locking interconnection with a vehicle to prevent theft while ensuring vehicle immobility. More specifically, it has been an urgent need to provide a means to secure parked aircraft so that they do not become potential terrorist weapons. The following disclosure describes a locking chock that is adapted to immobilize an aircraft by selectively interconnecting with a tire thereon.
It is one aspect of the present invention to provide an apparatus that not only prevents a vehicle from moving, but also is capable of being locked to prevent unauthorized removal thereof. More specifically, in one embodiment of the present invention, a two piece chock system is provided such that one piece is adapted to be inserted in front of an aircraft's tire, while the other is adapted to be interconnected behind. The two pieces are designed for simplistic adjustment, wherein the device may be used for various tire diameters. Once properly placed on the tire, the two interconnected pieces are locked together and preferably tethered to the aircraft to prevent a would-be thief from simply lifting the wheel out of the chock.
It is another aspect of the present invention to provide an apparatus that is cost effective to manufacture, and utilizes common materials. Due to the heightened risk of terrorism, it is envisioned that locking devices as described herein will be encouraged or lawfully required by statute to be used in the near future. Therefore, to make any transition as cost effective as possible, one embodiment of the present invention is designed to be manufactured from common materials. Preferably, the chocks are constructed of aluminum, steel, or any other rigid materials known in the art. Alternatively, the chock may be constructed with formed composite, durable plastic, or polycarbonate materials. By using common materials and machining techniques, the chock halves will also be easy to maintain or repair if damaged.
It is yet another aspect of the present invention to provide an apparatus that is simplistic to use. A locking chock that is difficult to install will inevitably not be employed with great frequency, unless mandated by law. Therefore, in one embodiment of the present invention the locking halves of the chock are light-weight and may be installed by a single person. To ensure an aircraft is properly secured at the termination of a flight, chocks are often carried onboard in the event the airport is not equipped with extra chocks. Heavy chocks will decrease the effective payload of an aircraft, which may be a detriment when flying a smaller aircraft. Light chocks, however, are easy to manipulate into interconnection with a tire, thereby eliminating excuses of tired pilots related to the installation of the device. Moreover, one-person installation is important in the event of a solo flight where no ground personnel are available to aid in securing an aircraft.
It is still yet another aspect of the present invention to provide an apparatus that is adapted for many sizes of aircraft. As previously mentioned, any size of aircraft is capable of being stolen, therefore various sized and shaped locking chocks are required. In one embodiment of the present invention, inclined surfaces are integrated into a chock, wherein it is capable of wedging between the aircraft's tire and the ground. A second, similarly designed chock will then wedged between the tire and the ground opposite of the first and be secured thereto. By interconnecting the two chock halves in a telescoping manner, a plurality of tire diameters are accommodated. The aforementioned inclined surfaces may also be adapted to contract and expand to accommodate a plurality of tire widths. An embodiment employing one or both of these adjustment means will allow airports to have extra sets of chocks to accommodate various types of wheels of incoming aircraft.
It is yet another aspect of the present invention to provide a chock that prevents disengagement by vertical wheel displacement. Some un-chained chocks may be forcibly disengaged from an aircraft by lifting the wheel and sliding the chock away. This method of disengagement is most readily seen in the context of light aircraft, wherein very little upward force is required to provide sufficient clearance for an un-chained chock to be removed. Therefore, one embodiment of the present invention is equipped with vertical extensions that maintain interconnection to the tire when it is displaced vertically. Preferably, curved fenders are provided that conform with a substantial portion of a tire's contour to prevent vertical disengagement. In one embodiment of the present invention, the fenders are hingedly interconnected to the main body of the chock and are capable of folding into the chock body when not in use to facilitate storage.
It is another aspect of the present invention to provide a chock that is adapted to interconnect to an aircraft employing multi-wheel landing gear. Some aircraft employ landing gear with a plurality of wheels interconnected in close proximity via an axle. One embodiment of the present invention is adapted to immobilize at least one of the plurality of wheels, thereby preventing movement or theft of the aircraft.
It is yet another aspect of the present invention to provide a chock that is capable of frictional or separable interconnection with a parking surface in order to mitigate vehicle motion. In one embodiment of the present invention, the bottom surface of the chock is equipped with a non-skid material. Preferably, rubber soles or abrasive material, as sometimes used on stairways, may be interconnected to the bottom surface of a chock to create a friction-based bond with the parking area. An embodiment with fenders, as described above, may also employ small deformable protrusions that are adapted to interface between the tire and the parking surface, thereby more securably restraining the wheel and providing added impedance to movement. Alternatively, the chock may be constructed with apertures which are capable of receiving ground tie-down means or spikes. Further, one embodiment of the present invention includes a stationary portion of the chock that is interconnected to the parking area, wherein another, mobile portion, is capable of selective interconnection to the stationary portion when a wheel is in place, thereby completely immobilizing the vehicle.
It is still yet another aspect of the present invention to provide an apparatus that is adapted to be employed on other vehicles besides aircraft. Although the foregoing has mostly been concerned locking chocks capable of being used with aircraft, one skilled in the art will appreciate that other vehicles may employ the present invention. Trucks may more easily be used as terrorist tools than aircraft. Thus, it is imperative that ground vehicles are also secured against such a threat. Also, when being ferried on an ocean going vessel, across undulating waters, it is desirable to chock the wheels of any type of motor vehicle to prevent motion. Thus, the employment of a chock that secures an automobile during any kind of transport is a benefit.
Thus, it is one aspect of the present invention to provide a vehicle immobilization apparatus comprising:
a forward chock comprising a left channel, a right channel, and a tire contact surface, interconnected to said left channel and said right channel;
a rear chock comprising a left channel, a right channel, and a tire contact surface, interconnected to said left channel and said right channel;
wherein a tire of the vehicle is substantially immobilized when said left channel of said forward chock is selectively interconnected to said left channel of said rear chock, said right channel of said forward chock is selectively interconnected to said right channel of said rear chock, and said tire contact surface of said forward chock and said tire contact surface of said rear chock are engaged on the tire; and
a locking means interconnected to at least one of said left channel of said forward chock, said left channel of said rear chock, said right channel of said forward chock, and said right channel of said rear chock, which restrains said forward chock with respect to said rear chock when they are selectively interconnected, thus preventing removal of said apparatus.
The Summary of the Invention is neither intended nor should it be construed as being representative of the full extent and scope of the present invention. The present invention is set forth in various levels of detail in the Summary of the Invention as well as in the attached drawings and the Detailed Description of the Invention and no limitation as to the scope of the present invention is intended by either the inclusion or non-inclusion of elements, components, etc. in this Summary of the Invention.
The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and together with the general description of the invention given above and the detailed description of the drawings given below, serve to explain the principles of these embodiments.
It should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily to scale. In certain instances, details which are not necessary for an understanding of the invention or which render other details difficult to perceive may have been omitted. It should be understood, of course, that the invention is not necessarily limited to the particular embodiments illustrated herein.
To assist in the understanding of the present invention the following list of components and associated numbering found in the drawings is provided herein:
Large Diameter Tire
Small Diameter Tire
Side locking “C” Channel
Referring now to
Referring now to
Referring now to
Referring now to
Referring now to
Referring now to
Referring now to
As mentioned above, some aircraft require a plurality of tires 36, connected via an axle 74, in order to accommodate larger payloads. One embodiment of the present invention employs a chock 10 equipped with a shortened channel that provides sufficient clearance from the axle 74. Alternatively, a chock 10 may be constructed that is adapted to encompass the plurality of tires 36.
Referring back now to
Removal of a locking chock 10 would simply entail disengagement of the lock 42, removal of the chain 46, and separation of the forward 20 and the rear 30 chocks. The chock 10 is easily stowed in the aircraft, or alternatively left in a designated area at the airport for others to use.
While various embodiment of the present invention have been described in detail, it is apparent that modifications and alterations of those embodiments will occur to those skilled in the art. However, it is to be expressly understood that such modifications and alterations are within the scope and spirit of the present invention, as set forth in the following claims.
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|U.S. Classification||244/111, 188/32, 70/226, 70/228|
|Cooperative Classification||B64F1/16, Y10T70/585, Y10T70/5841|
|Dec 4, 2003||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MITI MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC., COLORADO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:FULCHER, ROBERT A.;BEAVERS, ALLAN E.;REEL/FRAME:014777/0737
Effective date: 20031203
|Sep 30, 2008||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Jan 7, 2013||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|May 24, 2013||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Jul 16, 2013||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20130524